Warren Joyce wants his Wigan Athletic players to master the art of the grittier side of football as their survival fight heads into the New Year.
Latics head to Derby County’s Pride Park this afternoon to draw the curtain on a gloomy end to 2016, which has failed to produce any points since a 2-1 win over Huddersfield on November 28.
In football or in life, you either stand in the corner over there and let people keep hitting you or you get up and swing at a fewWarren Joyce
But Joyce, who is still looking for his second win in charge, thinks the biggest part of Latics’ game to put right is, frustratingly, the easiest to fix.
“In football or in life, you either stand in the corner over there and let people keep hitting you or you get up and swing at a few,” he said.
“That’s what we’ve got to be like in this situation.
“I don’t think in the games there have been vast things where a lot has been wrong to be fair.
“The doubt and the things we have to be better at is the ugly bit, second balls.”
Joyce has been preparing for this afternoon’s trip to the play-off chasing Rams and the home clash with high-flying Huddersfield on Monday with a squad weakened through injury and illness.
And with his first transfer window in charge just around the corner, the boss has revealed the type of player he might be looking for to arm Latics for the second-half of a season which has turned into a relegation scrap.
“We want players capable of being bright enough tactically to stop the likes of Newcastle, or Aston Villa at Villa or be bright enough to play the sort of football where we’ve cut sides open and created chances against Newcastle and Derby or whoever,” he said.
“You want players who can play that brand and to have that knowledge every day.”
But Joyce has also explained with that knowledge must come the willingness to play a rugged game if needed.
“There’s an art in that and putting your body on the line, and being willing to do that shouldn’t be undervalued,” he explained.
“The challenge in this league is you want players who can, if it’s a fight, with the fight.
“If it’s a tactical game, we’re bright enough tactically to do it. If it’s a passing game, we can adapt to that.
“You want all the three.
“Usually players with all those three attributes are playing at the very top level. The bit that has caught us out is the fight bit which is disappointing because that’s the easiest.”
But before Joyce can start on his January shopping list, there are critically-needed points on offer at Pride Park, and when looking at facing a side unbeaten since a 1-0 loss to Huddersfield on October 22, he has issued a rallying cry.
“We need everyone together, we need all the fans backing the players, which they have done really well,” he said.
“We have to go out there, express ourselves against Derby County and give them problems.”